Bratislava: 24 things to do in 24 hours

I wasn’t intending to visit Bratislava. But one weekend back in March I was at a loose end. I had nothing to do and I didn’t fancy being in London. The high-cost of UK train fares meant a last minute trip via rail was out of the question. So, I turned to flights. Via Sky Scanner I found a cheap flight on Wizz Air to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia for £50 return. It left on Saturday morning and returned on Sunday evening giving me a full 24 hours in Bratislava.

So I decided to see if I could fit 24 things in 24 hours in Bratislava…on a budget! This was a random weekend city break and I didn’t have the money to splash out on expensive entrance fees to things so I kept my budget as tight as possible, fitting in as many free things as I could. My expenses were food and accommodation and tiny bit of shopping – tiny as I didn’t take any luggage bags to take it home in!

If you’re heading to the city for a day, or longer, I hope these 24 ideas for things to do in Bratislava in 24 hours give you some inspiration…

24 hours in Bratislava and 24 things to do while you’re there

  1. Visit the grounds of Bratislava castle
PHOTO of the castle which is hiding behind trees and a greeney

If you have time and an interest in looking inside then by all means purchase a ticket. Or, you can simply head up to the castle to enjoy the beautiful baroque garden that is free to visit. There are benches to sit down on and admire the view and free public toilets too. Plus epic panoramic views.

2. Soup Culture

Hand holding soup inside an edible bread cup

This was one of my first stops as I arrived at lunchtime. A vegan soup cafe it serves extremely delicious soups inside extremely delicious edible cups for about 5 euros. There was a choice of four flavours of soup and different flavours of cup too – for example, tomato or spinach. You also get toppings like crispy onions and nuts. It was one of the most delicious fresh soups I’ve ever had as it maintained a home-cooked quality. The edible cup was delicious too. Wish I’d had time to return for a second portion.

3. Drink fresh lemonade

hand holding a jug of fresh pink lemonade styled with mint and lemon slices

Central European countries know a thing or two about lemonade. Look out for different flavours and pretty cafes to drink them in. Mine was refreshing and yummy and I had it on the rooftop bar which was bathed in spring sunshine.

4. Check out the Smurf church

exterior of a light blue church with white details and panels

So technically that’s not its real name, but an affectionate name for a beautiful blue church in Bratislava. Smurf Church is actually ‘Modry Kostol’ and has also been likened to an iced wedding cake. I loved the architecture of this kitsch, colourful building. Though it was closed so I couldn’t look inside, the exteriors made the walk up here worthwhile.

5. Have a picnic lunch

bowl of poke shot against grass

If it’s a sunny day, get yourself some takeaway snacks or lunch and enjoy them with views over the Danube river. I bought this poke bowl from one of the cafes on the Danube promenade.

6. Push the boat out at Konditorei Kormuth

More than a posh patisserie, the interiors at this cake cafe are jaw-droppingly maximalist. Everything from the sugar bowls and frescoes to the inside of the toilets are aesthetically impressive. It costs around 15 euros for a cake and a drink (and that’s all that’s on the menu) but both were absolutely delicious. I had a violet cordial and swan choux. This place gets really busy and reaches capacity. To avoid the queues I arrived just before 9am when it opened and it made the visit relaxing, while also allowing me to take All The Photos of the delightful decor. I also felt it was worth every penny.

7. Ride a tram

photo of a red tram at a tram station

Trams are the best way to explore and zip around Bratislava on a city break and they’re a fun activity in them self.

8. Visit the main train station

photo pf a mosaic above the departure boards. It has historically dressed people on it

The charming decor includes a beautiful mosaic and overall it’s just a really fascinating building. Even if you’re not getting on a train, you may end up here as it’s a main tram stop in which case, get out and take a look around.

9. See Primacial Palace

A stone’s through from the tourist information office, this neo-classical pink palace in the Old Town of Bratislava is open to visitors. But seeing it from the outside and enjoying the square where you can also hear church bells is a pleasant experience in itself. (Apologies, it’s very photogenic but I can’t find the photo I took if it hence, no pic for this one!)

10. Sleep on a boatel

view of the corridoor of shipping container units with chairs outside and the river on the right hand side

I love sleeping on boats but the Boatel I stayed on in Bratislava actually isn’t a boat. It consisted of shipping containers on top of a floating night club. It’s a bit out of the way but waking up to views of being on the water can’t be beaten. Be warned though, on nights the club is in action you might not get any sleep – thankfully there wasn’t an event the night I stayed over. Check with the hotel before booking. I saw a few options on floating accommodation and there’s choices for different budgets.

11. Watch sunrise

Sleeping on the boatel made watching sunrise easier and more scenic as I was able to see it rise over the river.

12. Evening strolls

Wonder along the Danube or cross over a bridge to see the city lights in the dark. Again, sleeping on the river made an evening river stroll easy.

13. Hunt out silly street art

corner of a street there's metal man climbing out of  drain under a sign that says man at work

Well this just made me chuckle. You’ll find this ‘watching’ metal man on the floor in the Old Town between Laurinská and Panská Streets under a sign that say’s Man At Work. His name is Cumil and he’s supposedly one of the most photographed things in Bratislava. Whether you’ll get to photograph him while there are actual men at work I can’t say, but it was quite the sight when I saw him!

14. Discover traditional dress

a doll dressed in a traditional blue blouse with embellished ribbon and elaborate hat

The tourist shops around town have dolls wearing traditional costumes and as an appreciator of colour and crafts, this was right up my street. I love going to ethnographic museums when I’m abroad to see costumes in real life. There is one in Slovakia but it’s in Martin, not Bratislava so these dolls were the next best thing.

15. Taste the local aloe vera juice

a green bottle that says aloe vera original with the contents poured in the glass looking refreshing

If I drunk alcohol then this would probably be drink the local beer – but instead let me praise Slovakia’s aloe vera juice. I’m an aloe vera connoisseur and I can confirm this local version was perfection.

16. Spot the UFO tower

a circular building on top of a bridge that looks like a ufo

You don’t just need to spot the UFO Observation Tower, you can go up it too. Here, you can enjoy views over the city, day or night as it’s open until 11pm. You’ll be able to see a 360 view for around 100km. There’s also a restaurant for dining in the sky. I didn’t go inside, I just admired it during my evening walk.

17. Seek out colourful architecture

two yellow buildings

Like other capitals in central European cities, the architecture around Bratislava is impressive. Make time for a walk around, just follow your nose and keep an eye for colourful buildings.

18. Look for lizards

two lizards on a rocky wall

Local wildlife spotting is always fun. Keep an eye in the nooks and crannys of walls as you wonder the city for these tiny reptiles.

19. Find the bridge over no water

a bridge in the middle of the street over grass not water

There are six major bridges over the Danube river in Bratislava, most are for traffic. But this tiny one I wondered passed was rather strange as it was literally a bridge over no water. I made a point of crossing it just for fun.

20. Go shopping

hand showing a pink bracelet and some cute bear shapes glitter ad blushers

I didn’t take any luggage (you don’t really need anything other and a toothbrush, toiletries and PJs for a 24 hour stay) and no luggage is a great way to save money. But I still popped to the mall to use the loos and get on WIFI where I got sucked into a gorgeous jewellery shop and one that sold an amazing range of make-up. Both small enough to travel home with.

21. See a virtual synagogue

I think it’s a bit sad seeing a place where there used to be a stunning feat of architecture but it’s no longer there. But, at the same time, there are are some incredible archive photos and a chance to imagine what once was in this spot celebrating the ‘lost city’ in Bratislava.

22. Drink Kofola

a bottle of kofola it looks like a dark drink the wrapper is white and orange

This is the Czech and Slovakian version of a coca cola. So rather than reaching for the regular brand, when in Bratislava ask for a Kofola. It tastes dark like Dandelion & Burdock.

23. Watch sunset

No doubt there are some wonderful spots around Bratislava to watch sunset but I lucked out with finding one of the most gorgeous spots. On a lounger bench in the grounds of the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum.

24. Visit an art gallery on an island – Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum

I’ve saved my favourite thing to do in Bratislava until last. While most of the other things I did could have been done in other cities, this gallery is one of a kind and is a must-visit. Though it’s just outside the main city you can reach it by bus. The museum is glorious both inside and out. It’s floating location is unique too as it has views over three countries – Slovakia, Austria and Hungary. Exhibitions include work from local artists (did you know Andy Warhol was born in Slovakia?) and international work. There’s a beautiful cafe too with river views.

So that’s 24 things I did in 24 hours in Bratislava. I’d be happy to go back and do many of these things again. Of course there’s lots more to do too, so explore the city at your own pace to find your own favourite discoveries too.

I hope this helps as a starting point!